Hockey standout's humanitarian efforts recognized

ST. LOUIS -- Yale senior forward Kristin Savard was named the recipient of the 2007 Hockey Humanitarian Award, presented by the Mellon Financial Corporation. Savard is the 12th recipient of the award, which recognizes college hockey players who give back to their communities.

Savard is the third ECAC Hockey League player to receive the Hockey Humanitarian Award, joining Cornell's Sam Paolini (2003) and Princeton's Eric Leroux (2006) as a recipient of the honor.

Savard founded Teaming Up, Yale's effort to raise awareness for improving maternal health in the developing world -- a project she hopes to expand to other schools and teams. Of all the health statistics monitored by the World Health Organization, maternal mortality represents the largest discrepancy between developed and developing nations. Approximately 600,000 women die each year from pregnancy-related complications, and 99 percent of these deaths occur in developing countries. Most of these deaths are preventable.

"After hearing such startling statistics, you can't help but wonder what more can be done -- how can you make a difference?" Savard said. "As I considered how to go about raising awareness, I realized that my strongest resource at Yale was our hockey team."

Savard raised money to enable the women of the Keiskamma community in South Africa to partake in the UbuMama program. UbuMama ("motherhood") is an arts-based initiative in which women produce a maternity gown depicting the challenges of motherhood. The garments are used as instruments to gain support for the cause.

Dozens of communities have expressed interest in the UbuMama program but lack the funding to implement it - thus "Teaming Up". The Yale women's ice hockey team encouraged fans to pledge a donation for each goal the team scored (a school-record 96) as part of its "Goals for Goals" campaign to aid the women of Keiskamma.

"Kristin Savard is an extraordinary student-athlete," said Yale head coach Hilary Witt. "I am confident that, long after she graduates this spring, she will continue to do her part to make the world a better place."

Savard first became involved with the issue of maternal health this past summer when she worked for Imagine Chicago, a non-profit organization that works with community groups to implement innovative civic projects. She attended numerous conferences, documented Imagine Chicago projects from around the world (Imagine Nepal, Imagine Cape Town, etc.) and edited a book about Imagine Chicago's approach to community involvement.

In addition to her work on Teaming Up, Savard is in her second year serving on Yale's Thomas W. Ford '42 Student-Athlete Community Outreach Committee, an organization designed to bring Yale student-athletes and the New Haven community together. Among the committee's projects are a holiday toy drive and two annual Yale Athletics Youth Days in which local children use Yale's facilities with coaching from student-athletes.

Savard and her teammates also participated in "Skate with the Players" events, giving local youths the chance to skate with Yale players. The team has also taken part in the Relay for Life, raising money for the American Cancer Society.

Savard spent two years as a tutor for first-graders at a New Haven elementary school. She also worked at Dynamic Skating hockey camps each summer throughout high school and until last year, when she was away working for Imagine Chicago.

Savard was named as one of five Hockey Humanitarian finalists in January, joining Ohio State's Jody Heywood, Wisconsin's Andrew Joudrey, RPI's Kirk MacDonald and Clarkson's Lindsay Williams. Savard was the third Bulldog to earn finalist status in the last eight years, following Deanna McDevitt in 2003 and Julianna Schantz-Dunn in 2000. Yale women's hockey has had more finalists than any other program in the country in that span.

A political science major, Savard is a three-time ECAC All-Academic selection. She has been a part of a renaissance on the ice for the Bulldogs, who won more games in her four seasons (54) than any other four-year period in school history. During her time here Yale set the school record for wins in a season (16, 2004-05) and made its first trip to the ECAC semifinals (2004-05).

Savard finished her career fourth all-time at Yale in assists (54), tied for fifth in points (93) and eighth in goals (39). She was an ECAC All-Star selection in 2005, competing against Team USA in an exhibition match at Ingalls Rink. She was named to the ECAC All-Rookie Team as a freshman and won Yale's Coaches' Award, given to the player who has shown the most grit and determination, as a sophomore.